We should all know our HIV status

I am publishing this post to commemorate World AIDS Day with the world. I wrote this really short story years ago. I could not write anything for today, so I dug through one of my folders to find this. The story is embarrassingly bad, I know, but it is the message that counts, I think.

So please, read on. Like, or share if you got the message.

“HIV is manageable and not a death sentence. Treatment is available and free in health centers. You can live a good and healthy life. However, you should bring your wife to get tested, so we can carry out the necessary measures.” Those words echoed through Mr Dave’s mind for months. He watched his wife as she served his food and read her bible. He watched her as she dressed up for work and hummed popular gospel songs. He watched her so intensely; she asked him regularly if everything was fine. And all he could do was murmur and nod his head. He could not tell her he had HIV and he might have infected her too. 

How could he? He was supposed to be the loving, doting husband. He was supposed to be the one that other wives compared their husbands to and looked at with envy. He was supposed to be faithful. He could not let her know that he was not and had never been. It was just that he knew how to hide his affairs well. He knew what to do right and when to come back home. He knew how to be a good husband.  

He had told his friend, Chike a few months ago. Chike asked him when he was going to tell his wife, but he replied with silence. 

“Wait, are you saying that you will not tell her? Do you want her to die without getting treatment, while you get treated? All because of cowardice. Do you want to kill your wife?” His friend asked, incredulous.  

“It’s not that easy”, Dave said. “I don’t know how to tell her.”  

Chike watched him, his mouth ajar, his eyes filled with disappointment.  

Mr Dave would never to tell her. He had his reputation to protect.  

Days later, Mrs Dave went to the market to buy groceries. As she sang one of her favourite gospel songs, she saw a group of young students sitting behind a table. Some of them were walking up to passers-by, but the passers-by ignored them.  

“What is going on here?” She asked, smiling widely. 

“Ma, we are doing free HIV testing and counselling.” A young girl replied.   

“Oh, that’s nice. I love when young people can be seen out and about doing something. It seems no one wants to get tested. That’s the thing with our country. You have to beg them to take care of themselves.” She said, shaking her head. 

“Yes Ma”, they all chorused.  

“Don’t worry. I will get enough people to come and test themselves, Okay? she said and began to walk away. 

“But Ma, what about you?” one of them asked.  

“Me? nooo. My husband and I are both faithful to God. And I’m faithful to my husband and he is faithful to me. I can’t have HIV.” She said smiling. 

“But Ma, it doesn’t matter. HIV is not only contacted by sexual intercourse. Sharing of unsterilized infected objects can also increase your risks, like manicure and pedicure instruments.” 

“My children, my family and I are covered, in Jesus name. Don’t worry, I will get some young people to come and test themselves.” She said and went away, giving them a quick wave, while they called out to her loudly. 

A year later, Mrs Dave began to cough loudly. She took medication, but somehow her cough would not go away. When she told her husband she wanted to go to the hospital, he forbade her from going.  

“It is just cough”, he told her. Why did she want to waste money on such a common illness? Did she want to defy him because she was also earning money? He was the man of the house and his word was law, Mr Dave screamed out when she tried to argue. She could not understand her husband’s irrational behaviour and confided in her pastor. He prayed for her and told her to go to the hospital. One must always seek medical care, when necessary. After all, was it not God that made the doctors and the medicines? the pastor said.  

Mrs Dave nodded vigorously, coughed heavily and left for the hospital that evening.  

Years later, she came to find out she was really lucky. She was lucky to have gone to the hospital and to have discovered her status in time to receive treatment. Now, she was healthy and fine. Many people hid their HIV status from their spouses and let them die, while they received treatment that was free and effective.  

As she volunteered with an NGO offering free HIV testing and counselling, she told many women her story. After telling them her story, she would always tell them,  “No matter how secure you feel in your relationship, still get tested, because in this world, you never know.” 

Pygmalion effect and us

I just watched a video on a phenomenon called the pygmalion effect. It basically means that people are likely to meet the expectations others set for them. For example, if for some reason as a coach, you expect one of your players to be good at sports, you will compliment them and give them more attention, which will make them love playing sports and perform better. That way they reinforce your beliefs about them and the cycle continues. 

On the other hand, if you expect them to be bad at sports, maybe because of a mistake they made or a preconceived notion you have about them, then you will criticize them more and compliment them less. This will make them feel less motivated to play, enjoy playing less and will then perform poorly. 

In order words, if you set low expectations for people, act in a way that makes it obvious that you have such low expectations of them (like not motivating them, always criticizing, not complimenting, not giving them tasks), they will likely meet those expectations. This is not some psychological BS. It is true. I have seen it happen so many times with others and with me.  

I can think of three implications; 

Firstly, Parents and teachers need to take note. When you expect kids to fail and treat them like failures, they just might become failures. You need to set high expectations for kids. Do not have low expectations for any of your kids. Motivate them to be the best at what they do. Know their strengths and encourage them. They will try hard to be the best because you have set a positive environment for them to thrive, which will motivate them. Yes, you can point out flaws, but not in a condescending or insulting manner, but a corrective and loving manner. 

Secondly, Always try to motivate and encourage people around you whether as a family member, a spouse, a friend or a colleague. Its important. Humans are social beings and the people they surround themselves with have an impact in their lives. Let them know you know they can. It just might make a difference. 

Finally, we all need to try to break the power of pygmalion effect. Its wonderful when we thrive because we are in a positive environment, but that might not always be the case. We may find ourselves in an environment where nobody believes in us, nor cares. Or maybe they do, but they don’t show it well enough. Then, we may just fail. Its important that we learn to stop seeking validation from others. We should be our strongest motivation. We should have high expectations for ourselves and work towards achieving it for ourselves. And that can only be possible with self love.

In conclusion, we should learn to love ourselves to kill the need for external validation, and always try to motivate those around us.

Exclusive breastfeeding and in-laws

Hi readers, how has your week been? I have not been of optimum health this weekend so I wasn’t able to conjure something new and original. I call it lazy brain syndrome. However, I bring to you this very short story/ fictional write up/dialogue/health educational fictional scenario (I don’t really know what to call it) that I wrote for a friend of mine who needed to transform it to a script, make a very short video and share it on social media. I don’t know what happened to that idea, but it was a good one.

Side note: I wrote several of such fictional scenarios, so whenever I am unable to write something new or have lazy brain syndrome, I will post one of them here.

Bear in mind that I wrote this at a time in my life that I was extremely busy, so forgive the quality (My lazy brain syndrome won’t let me edit properly). Feel free to criticise and comment. It will only make me better. Continue reading

Psychological violence: The hidden form of violence

Hi readers. How has your week been? I hope it has been productive and satisfying.

This post is about domestic violence. Although, I used “her” and “she” when referring to the victim through out the post, its content still applies to both genders.  This post in no way dismisses the fact that men are also victims of domestic violence. Unfortunately, in our society, due to gender norms, men hardly ever report these incidences. I promise to write about the reality of domestic violence among men in another post.

Istanbul Convention defines Violence against women” as the violation of human rights and a form of discrimination against women and means all acts of gender‐based violence that result in, or are likely to result in, physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

The above definition is very long, but extremely vital. It details the several forms of violence and points out that violence is much more than physical harm. These details are absolutely necessary, because we often disregard psychological violence. Continue reading

Poetry: The light in me

Hi readers, its been so long. Too long. I have truly missed blogging. So much. Too many things have come up and taken over my time. Hence, the things I used to do and loved doing have fallen by the way side. Responsibilities, responsibilities, responsibilities… I won’t promise not to be AWOL again, because these responsibilities still exist, but I promise to try. I promise to be more committed.

This month, 11th Oct, the world celebrated International Day of the Girl Child to create awareness about gender issues that millions of girls face just because they are girls. Issues like child marriage, female genital mutilation and denial of education occur because of the existing gender norms in our societies. If society didn’t believe that a woman’s place was only in the kitchen, many girls would not be denied their right to education, or forced to marry at such a tender age. If gender norms did not exist, millions of girls would not have their genitals mutilated because it was considered unclean, or a means of promiscuity.  Continue reading

Something Extra

According to WHO, Nigeria currently has one of the worst healthcare systems in the world (187th out of 190 countries), despite having a large GDP and abundant mineral resources. Countries that are poorer are doing better with their health care system. We train doctors, but about 60% of them go abroad to work. Who can blame them? With the high workload and the small pay, doctors always want to seek better opportunities. What results is an even higher workload, for those doctors who have not yet had the opportunity to leave. Continue reading

World AIDS day; HIV and Gender

Hi readers. On 1st December, the world marked world AIDS day. Therefore, this post is about HIV.

I am writing this post with the assumption that we all know certain things;

1. HIV is transmitted through sexual intercourse with an infected person, through blood transfusion with infected blood, and through an infected mother to her child during childbirth, among other routes of transmission.

2. HIV is not transmitted through mosquito bites, sharing of spoons, toilets, etc.

3. Mother to child transmission of HIV during childbirth and breastfeeding can be prevented. It’s really not that difficult.

4. HIV treatment is freely available.

5. HIV is not a death sentence.

6. No one should stigmatise or discriminate against anyone because of their HIV status (or for any other reason). Stigma is bad. Period.

(NB: On second thought, I know a lot of people do not know not to stigmatize and discriminate. That will be a topic for another day.)

Now that I have written some of the things we all should know, I have to ask, do we know some of the driving forces of the HIV epidemic? Do we know that; Continue reading

Men and their prostates

Hi, dearly beloved. It’s been a while. My laptop crashed, got repaired and crashed again. I had seminars, term papers and many other engagements. Unfortunately, blogging fell by the wayside. but now, my laptop is up and running. And I think I have less to do, or I have been able to better manage the different engagements that I have. So, fingers crossed.

This post is about prostate cancer. It’s only fair, since I have ranted on about breast cancer and cervical cancer already. (That reminds me; Ladies, have you checked up on your breasts this month? Have you gone for your regular pap smear screening, or had your child vaccinated against HPV? If your answer is no to any of these, please do the needful).

Now, back to the topic. Prostate Cancer is a cancer that occurs in men only, because men alone have prostates.  There are other forms of cancers particular to men, like penile cancer, occurring in penises, and testicular cancers occurring in testes, but prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among men, particularly among blacks, hence the focus. Continue reading

Breast cancer, “Jog for life”, religion and I

On Saturday, 8th of October 2016, the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN) organized an activity to create awareness about  breast cancer in Ibadan. And I was a part of it. I always love such activities, by the way.  We wore customized t-shirts with “Jog for life” boldly written on it and jogged for 5 km. We jogged/walked behind a truck with speakers that played some nice and really loud music.   Continue reading

Accepting reality and mental health

I had a discussion with someone a few months ago about a man who was reported to commit suicide. I remember talking about how the man was probably depressed and how this may have led to his suicide. And I remember clearly that my friend laughed and said “But, Nigerians do not get depressed”. This is a typical opinion among many of us. We do not believe in mental illnesses. And if we do not believe it exists, how do we even begin to understand it?

Nigeria is in denial about mental illness. Continue reading